Honoring the Sabbath ~ A Considered Approach to Living with Chronic Pain

The Sabbath ~ Merriam-Webster defines it as a day of rest, originally “to rest”

Notably is the notion that honoring the Sabbath, may be of real benefit to those living with Chronic Pain.

In both Judaism and Christianity the idea of the Sabbath is well known, rooted in the Bible, one of the 10 commandments after all and the conclusion of the creation story (Genesis 2:2-3). There exist distinct differences in respect to various aspects of,  believes about and cultural methods for honoring the day of the Sabbath, but it is a practice that is well-rooted and practiced by many (although, with our ever-quickening society, challenging to implement).

Let us remember, despite various differences in respect to some of the particulars and practices, the underlying spirit is to take time, reflect, rest, and gather our hearts and spirits…

The key to the Sabbath isn’t merely rest…..it’s the spirit of it: a day of spiritual reflection and reverence; we turn our attention to God. In the same breath we remember that all of this is deeply personal and that…

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you . . . with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” (Colossians 2:16-17)

In respect to the connection between Chronic Pain and honoring the Sabbath we can look to…

Research on living with a chronic medical condition out of the Cleveland Clinic,  The American Chronic Pain AssociationThe Mayo Clinic, and
U.S. Veteran’s Administration all supports a number of beneficial reasons for and practices to use as a part of crafting a Sabbath Day of your own:

Simplifying your life – I.i.e. taking a day off-to simply rest from the worries and work of this world.

Reading spiritually enriching books -the Bible has brought people help for centuries but Heaven knows there are many fine spiritual texts available that offer wisdom, hope and help. It also helps to redirect our attention away from pain.

Keeping a journal– a fine Sabbath day routine, focusing on our abilities (as in our gifts from God) as opposed to our disabilities… express yourself, make gratitude lists and too, invite God into your life through invitation, petition, etc.

Setting realistic goals – that we evaluate weekly (another Sabbath day activity that would benefit by its weekly nature) which helps to empower and focus us towards the positive and life-affirming.

Practicing art – is a way to draw closer to God and for many trauma survivors to express their feelings in a positive, creative way, distracting from your pain and helping process the emotional experience of living with it.

Listening to quiet music – There are, obviously, many choices. Of note here: many Classical pieces are inspired by the Bible (Choral music would be ideal).

Spending time in nature

Relaxation exercises – like perhaps Centering Prayer, a form of Christian prayer, to help ease pain.

Having a safe, supportive place – where we can talk about our experiences (often found in active, faith-based communities) and also helps us watch for isolation, having a regular commitment to attend Temple or Church is ideal to address this.

*NOTE – regarding Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which many chronic pain patients suffer from:  “While relaxation techniques can be helpful, in a few people they can sometimes increase distress at first. This can happen when you focus attention on disturbing physical sensations and you reduce contact with the outside world. Most often, continuing with relaxation in small amounts that you can handle will help reduce negative reactions. You may want to try mixing relaxation in with music, walking, or other activities.” U.S. VA

A little Sabbath History

Judaism ~ the Ten Commandments found in Deuteronomy are Moses’ words which remind Israel to obey the commandments, “as the LORD your God has commanded you” & importantly, for those of the Jewish faith refers back to the “reasoning” underlying the commandment: “slaves” rest on the Sabbath day in order that Israel remember that they were slaves in Egypt and that God redeemed them. The Sabbath serves as a celebration of God’s presence in our lives and a reminder of man’s eternal rest in God.

Catholicism ~  The gentile converts held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Sunday is the ceremonial observance of Christ’s resurrection. distinguished from the Sabbath, which it follows. The Catholic Catechism describes the Sunday celebration as observing the “moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship.” The Lord’s day should be “a day of grace and rest from work” and a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind as often done often through reading scripture and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

Christianity ~ Christians aren’t bound by Old Testament Sabbath directives. And Jesus, when rebuked by the Pharisees for all his various activities on the Sabbath, for which the Pharisees insisted. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). But Jesus never said to forget the Sabbath completely. Keeping the Sabbath is biblically well seated. Through time Christians have seen the wisdom of devoting one full day to rest. Martin Luther included did see wisdom in a voluntary observance of a day.

Two primary Sabbath readings:

Genesis 2:2-3

“And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.”

& Exodus 20:8-11

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work….For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”



Author: ChronicPainDailyReflections

I manage a web-site, Chronic Pain Daily Reflections.com, created for and in support of those living in chronic pain. The site helps with the day-to-day spiritual, mental, emotional and physical needs of those with constant pain, whatever its source.